Review: Batman: Earth One from @geoffjohns @1moreGaryFrank and @DCComics
Short Version: Well-written, gorgeously illustrated take on Batman’s first days as a hero. Much more the story of Alfred and Jim Gordon than Batman, Johns’ brings a new take on several classic Batman characters while keeping the core of the story in place. Score: 8 out of 10.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Every time someone revisits the origin story of a superhero the entire world asks why. We know how these heroes came to be at this point. There’s not much else to say. But sometimes it’s good to take a fresh look at the story. To see what it would have looked like if it had just started now. Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer for DC Comics, gets his shot at telling us what Batman’s origin might look like if were written now. As much as it is a reboot of Batman’s classic origin story, it’s almost more the modern answer to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, Batman’s origin told in today’s style. It’s violent in spots, but it’s not gritty. The characters are have motivations, but they aren’t as grim as many of the versions we have met before. The tone is one of hope against adversity, not struggle against the hopeless. It’s a small shift, but an important one to the overall feel of the book.
|The cover may look all dark and dreary
but the story inside moves quickly.
Johns’ Batman is, at his heart, a man, not an unstoppable sociopath genius hero. Fallible. This is not the freakin’ Batman that we are all used to seeing. The man that can defeat Superman by out-thinking him. The superhero of a generation. You can see that Batman bubbling under the surface, but he’s not there yet. We get some of Bruce’s time as a child, his development, creating his origin, and a lot of him the first times he puts on the cowl, but the middle part is left implied. It certainly didn’t bother me, but the transformation is never fleshed out. He goes from traumatized child to beginner superhero with little explanation as to the why or how. It’s easy enough to fill in the blanks if you know Batman’s story (and we all do), in any case, and it didn’t bother me, but it’s worth noting.
Johns fills the books to all sorts of allusions to the Batman we all know. A lot of the book is introducing us to the characters we know in their new roles, or showing us that they are much the same as the versions we are already familiar with. These ancillary characters, in many ways, take center stage in Johns’ take on the Batman mythos. More than Batman’s story, Batman: Earth One is the story of Alfred and Jim Gordon and they are the stars of this book. As much as anything, this is Alfred’s story, not Bruce’s. Johns’ take on Alfred makes the character more interesting than I ever remember him being. Its a reboot of a character that we all know as something more interesting, compelling, and invested than the version we have met before. Gordon, on the other hand, is much the same as the version we already know, but his story is the most interesting and personal of the stories in Batman: Earth One. It’s nice to see Batman shown (at least so far) as motivated, but not completely uncaring about those around him, but rounding out the rest of the characters early is a step in the right direction.
Still, at its heart this is still the Batman story. The origin hasn’t changed much. It’s still familiar. Things have been changed, characters altered, but it’s not a radical departure from what we know. If you are expecting a huge difference between this and the Batman books that have come before it, you will likely not find what you are looking for here. Otherwise, if you like Batman, and would like to see an interesting new take on the characters you have come to know so well over the years, definitely pick this one up. If you are looking for a well-written, expertly drawn take on Batman’s early years that you can read without knowing years of backstory or reading a bunch of other comics, this is the Batman book for you. It may not be revolutionary, but it’s definitely good. It is available right now and is priced at $22.99.
Score: 8 out of 10.